Remember those Happy Days episodes when Fonzie would confess that maybe he had been wrong? He stutters and can’t get the words out. The Fonz represents most men (though who among us will ever be that cool?).
The point? For years, I’ve been repeating that SUVs don’t feel enough like cars.
Then, inevitably, when I was driving one, I’d find plenty of good things to say about it. The condition was chronic. Yes, was chronic. The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4Matic was the SUV that broke the camel’s back. It either alerted me that:
- a) SUVs have come a long way and, without even noticing the fact, I have liked them for a while;
- b) I really like the M-B GLC 300 and the many others were all anomalies; or
- c) All along, I was wr-wr-wrong.
Let’s go with the forgiving tone of a, whose wording, like an amicable divorce, allows that mistakes were made by both parties.
SUVs and I have sorted our differences and we’re talking again.
Maybe it’s a symptom of midlife crisis? Now that I’ve turned 50, it’s kind of nice to be elevated in traffic and able see beyond the bumper sticker three feet in front of my hood. Or maybe it’s the effects of a clean pallet; I recently spent a year abroad, which entailed very little driving and currently do not own a car. Any opportunity to drive in the past 17 months has felt like a privilege, though the GLC was still especially special. (Every driver should consider a sabbatical every few years. Just a few months out of practice and you’d be astounded at how much things have evolved. This could well become the new mantra to replace my I-dislike-SUV refrain over the next few months.)
To be fair, auto manufacturers are making SUVs that drive less like trucks and more like cars. Crossovers have traversed the gap and, in my opinion, earned their title. Pretty much every one of them has adopted a squatter design ethic; between that and the assorted safety technologies, they just don’t seem tippy-trucky any more (please forgive any overly technical nomenclature and jargon).
The GLC was a prime example: On a short ski trip out of the city, icy roads were barely detectable courtesy of its squatter, downward dynamics and attentive 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. Push it in slippery corners and ‘listen’ closely to the feel of the ride. It’s simply more car than truck.
And, of course, there are the different driving modes.
The difference between the modes produces several different automobiles. Being able to modify your drive can help shrink the feel of the ride. In its stratified sport modes, Sport and Sport+, the GLC 300 drives like a dream. In Comfort and Eco modes, including start/stop technology for lights, it’s like the rest of your sleep — more of what you expect from an SUV.